ORKNEY’S ANCIENT GRAIN
Dr John and Ann Cumming Memorial Lecture
How far back can we trace the origins of bere, Orkney’s six-rowed barley? A very long way, says Prof. Terry Brown of Manchester University. Using DNA sequencing and other biomolecular methods it’s possible to build a picture of the evolution of bere over the centuries – revealing that it’s been grown in Orkney since the Bronze Age, 4000 years ago.
“Bere is therefore one of the oldest types of barley in Europe, and its cultivation provides an unbroken link between prehistory and today.”
Bere is ground at Orkney’s only working meal mill in Birsay. In this film made by Jack Norquoy for the Barony Mill, guide Ellen Hay explains the machinery in action, while Margaret Phillips shows how to make a bere bannock.
There is more about the mill and about bere on the Barony Mill website.With the kind support of the Cuminga Trust